Paul Gladen, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, recently was named CEO of the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.

In both capacities, he helps students jump-start their own businesses.

“This is an exciting time for entrepreneurship at UM,” Gladen said in a statement.

The Kauffman Foundation recently ranked Montana the No. 1 state in the nation for startup activity for the third year in a row.

MADE is an affiliated program of the School of Business Administration at UM. It states its mission is to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship to business students and Montana entrepreneurs through educational opportunities and special events. 

MADE organizes a statewide business startup challenge, and contributions from sponsors increased 50 percent last spring, according to UM. As a result, the group was able to offer $50,000 in prize money.

“The numerous judges, coaches and audience members commented that the quality of the ideas and pitches were the highest they have seen,” Gladen said.

MADE members voted last week to expand their mission from focusing on School of Business Administration students to encompass all UM students and entrepreneurial talent across the state.

MADE also plans fall activities to provide students across campus with opportunities to explore entrepreneurship and interact with Montana professionals.

As part of that plan, Gladen will teach a course entitled Startups: A Real World Introduction, which will show students the world of entrepreneurship and Montana businesses in particular.